Senate Foreign Relations Committee Sessions: Briefing on the Middle East Situation
(June 9, 1967)
Mr. Secretary, just as I came in the press asked if I have heard there has been a renewed outbreak of fighting. Is that correct; have you heard anything?
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE DEAN RUSK, SECRETARY OF STATE--RESUMED
Secretary Rusk. The information we have this morning is that along the Syrian frontier there is fighting. Each side has charged the other one with violations, and the Syrians have asked for an emergency meeting of the Security Council.
We do not have the facts in detail.
One of the complications might have been there is an Iraqi brigade on the Syrian-Jordan frontier, and Iraq has refused to accept a cease-fire.
We do believe that the Syrians have been throwing artillery shells across from the high ground to their side of the border into the valley of Israel territory and shelling some of those villages there.
But, quite frankly, we just do not know enough to give me a chance to take an official position on just what has occurred.
The Chairman. Yes.
Secretary Rusk. Mr. Chairman, on the boat incident yesterday, which brought our meeting to a conclusion, I may say that as soon as I found out the real facts, I came on back down, but the committee had adjourned.
The situation--the incident was extremely distressing, not only because of the dead and the wounded which were involved, but because it was a very reckless act.
Senator Hickenlooper. It seems to me it was completely inexcusable.
Secretary Rusk. It was a vessel configured as a merchant vessel. It was a U.S. Navy ship flying the U.S. flag, relatively unarmed with 450 caliber machine guns. It was ninety miles off Port Said, 14 miles off of the Gaza Strip territory, and was attacked by six strafing runs by aircraft and by motor torpedo boats.
Now, when I left here, I thought that it might well be an Egyptian attack. You can imagine that would have raised the most serious problems. But suppose it had been an Israeli attack on a Russian ship.
The Chairman. Yes.
Secretary Rusk. I called in the Israeli ambassador and protested in the strongest possible terms and pointed out to him the dangers that were involved in this kind of an operation in that area. He had no explanation. We have had nothing but an apology from the Israeli Government. But there it is, and we will be in touch with Israelis further about it.
After all, there are some damages and there are dead and wounded, and we will follow up on that with them.
Senator Carlson. Mr. Chairman, on that very point, one of the families in our state is affected, and, of course, that will be true of many others because of the dead and injuries. They are not happy with just an apology. They are really complaining. Is there anything more that can be done on this?
Secretary Rusk. I understand.
Senator Carlson. It was, I imagine, as I understand, surface PT boats.
Secretary Rusk. Plus six strafing runs by aircraft.
Senator Carlson. I cannot understand it.
Senator Hickenlooper. I think we should file for reparations. We should press for them, for the families, the people that were killed, and I am not sure but what I am impressed with the cavalier attitude of--it looks like a cavalier attitude--of Israel on this thing. They can do that with impunity.
Secretary Rusk. Well, the next move is at the moment up to them to come back with a better statement of fact than they have given us thus far. I will say this. We were very pleased that Israel immediately notified us that they had done it, and here in this room I can say that we did use the ``Hot Line'' for the purpose for which it was invented on this one, to flash a message to Moscow to inform Cairo, because at that moment we thought that the probabilities were it was an Egyptian attack and we would take the steps necessary to defend the ship. We were able to use the ``Hot Line'' to cancel that, and inform the Soviets immediately that it was an Israeli attack, and that--but in any event, as far as the international side of it is concerned, it proved not to be the kind of crisis that could have caused far greater trouble, either Egyptian attack or a Russian victim.
Senator Hickenlooper. Has the Israeli Government indicated any real sorrow about this thing, or is it a perfunctory apology?
Secretary Rusk. Oh, yes, they have been profuse.
Senator Hickenlooper. Have they said whether any disciplinary action will be taken against the stupidity of this crew or----
Secretary Rusk. I asked for that yesterday.
Senator Hickenlooper [continuing]. Or the commanding officers of the area or anything?
Secretary Rusk. We have not heard any more except what I have told you.
OUTSIDE POWERS CANNOT GIVE ORDERS
Mr. Chairman, when we were breaking up yesterday, we had gotten to the point of trying to look ahead a little bit as to the general structure and shape of a settlement in this situation. With feelings inflamed as they are, settlement is going to be extremely difficult and may take considerable time, and I want to emphasize the point I made yesterday that outside powers are not in a position to give orders in this situation. We cannot give final commands to Israel and be sure they will take our advice. The Soviet Union cannot give commands to the Arabs, and so the heart of the problem is to bring the two sides to a situation with which they are willing to live and that is going to be extremely difficult.
However, the general shape of settlement that emerges, I think, drawing both from the problems in the past, which have inflamed the situation, and from the prospect for the future--I emphasize this prospect for the future because Israel has a vital national interest in finding some way to live at peace with what are going to be 200 million Arabs in the next 25 years--so that their willingness to make their contribution to a reconciliation with the Arabs is going to be a very, very important element here.
Now, with the bitterness of the psychology of shocking defeat among the Arabs, and the exuberance of a stunning victory in Israel, it is going to take a little time, I suspect, to bring about a lasting settlement.
We feel that it is very important that the state of belligerence be removed. Now, whether one does that formally through peace treaties or in some other way, I would still leave open, a little flexible at this point. There is not much of a way to force people to come to a table and put their signatures on a piece of paper that will be enduring, and it may be that some of these governments simply will refuse to do that even though they may accept the situation contained in such document.
So I would concentrate on the policy point of eliminating a state of belligerency without at the moment emphasizing how that is done.
I noticed there is a good deal of speculation about putting emphasis on peace treaties as such. I do not think it is a treaty that is important. Look at Japan and the Soviet Union. They do not have a peace treaty, but they exchange ambassadors. They have normal relations. They have considerable trade between the two of them, and they are not challenging each other's territory.
I just mention that as a first point.
ISRAEL WILL INSIST ON USE OF THE SUEZ CANAL
Secondly, Israel is going to insist upon being treated like any other sovereign country without special derogations of that sovereignty. My guess is that they will insist upon right of passage of the Strait of Tiran. My guess is that that question is already accepted as far as the other side is concerned. It certainly is accepted as far as the Soviet Union is concerned. I am telling you this very privately. I think Israel will insist upon its normal right to put peaceful traffic through the Suez Canal. That will be more difficult for Egypt to accept, but that is a point that has already been covered in earlier United Nations resolutions.
Senator Hickenlooper. Was that not covered in the armistice agreement?
Secretary. Rusk. Yes, that is right; that is right.
The territorial question could become a little tricky. Prime Minister Eshkol and General Dayan both stated at the beginning of this affair that they had no territorial ambitions. Generally we have supported the boundaries, the existing boundaries, in that area. If Israel raises far-reaching boundary claims, then that is going to be a very, very difficult element in any solution. I think Israel is entitled to some assurance that whatever rights are established in this settlement be a fact accorded to them and not be subject to unilateral action by the Arabs.
One of the things we will have to expect is that somewhere along the way there are going to be some demands for international guarantees of some sort. Whether the four principal permanent members of the Security Council can agree among themselves that the Security Council will guarantee X, Y, and Z in a way that is not subject to a veto remains to be seen. But in a settlement which, against the background of this particular history, and with a small country surrounded by potentially hostile countries, with all of the possibilities of pre-emptive attacks and all that sort of thing hovering over everybody, this question of how you stabilize the situation is a very important one.
LIMIT ARMS RACE IN MIDDLE EAST
Next, I do believe that there is a major opportunity here for the principal powers to get together on some sort of understanding about the levels of arms in this area. I have told the committee before that we have tried from time to time to open this question with the Soviet Union and although they are willing to work on it in the nuclear field, they have been unwilling to work on it in the conventional arms field.
Perhaps psychologically this is not the very best moment in terms of Soviet dismay at some of the things that have happened. But nevertheless they put very large quantities of arms into Egypt, Syria, Algeria, and we have some little reason to believe that they might have a new interest in this subject. If so, that could be very important.
But, you see, this arms race sort of took the form of large Soviet arms supplies to Egypt, Algeria, Syria. Hostility between Egypt on the one side, Jordan and Saudi Arabia on the other; hostility between Syria and Jordan, some necessity on the part of other suppliers, Britain, ourselves, to assist Saudi Arabia and Jordan to the extent necessary to give them some assurance against their own Arab neighbors; the combination of Arab arms causing problems with respect to Israel's security----
SOURCES OF ISRAELI ARMS
Senator Symington. Mr. Secretary, may I just say----
Secretary Rusk. Yes?
Senator Symington [continuing]. We have been running hearings for a good many weeks, and we would have had one yesterday with Mr. Kitchen except for this.
It is a fact, is it not, that neither Soviet Russia nor the United States has given any material amounts of arms to Israel, and, if that is true, are they not relatively independent in their thinking at this point?
Secretary Rusk. No, we have provided tanks and Hawk missiles and certain other kinds of equipment to Israel, but their principal arms supplier has been France. And I am assuming that France, Britain, the Soviet Union, ourselves, would have to be involved in any discussion on this subject.
The Israeli air force is almost all French supplied.
Well, there is another element, if we could inject something on that into a final settlement it would be helpful.
TRAGEDY OF PALESTINIAN REFUGEES
Then, there is the problem of the refugees, this intractable issue which has resisted settlement despite many, many efforts to do so.
The tragedy of the refugee problem is that some of us are convinced that there is a practical solution which would be acceptable to both sides, but which in theory is unacceptable to both sides. What I mean by that is that if you could get each refugee into the privacy of a confessional booth and let him make a personal and secret judgment as to where he wants to live, many of us believe, are convinced, that their own personal and secret choices would produce a practical result which Israel could accept.
I mean if the gentlemen around this table were Palestine refugees, would you all want to live in Israel? I doubt you would. But if one out of ten wanted to live in Israel, we could persuade Israel, I think, to accept that number, and we could find compensation and resettlement for those who are wanting to live in other places.
What has stood in the way of that, and we have tried this several times, is the political fact that if you have a machinery which is known, the Arabs pass the word among the Palestinians, ``Now you go in there and tell them you want to go in Israel or you are going to get your throat cut,'' and the Arabs insist as a matter of principle Israel would have to accept how many would opt to go to Israel.
Israel can take 150,000, 200,000, but they are not going to take a million.
But Arabs insist as a matter of principle a million must have a chance to opt to go to Israel.
Now, it may be out of this will come some settlement of that problem.
I heard one report out of Tel Aviv that the Israelis are thinking about insisting that the West Bank of the Jordan be an autonomous province of Jordan and the home for the refugees. Well, that will not settle the problem politically entirely, but some fresh thought can be----
Senator Hickenlooper. It would be another Gaza Strip, would it not?
Secretary Rusk. It would tend to be if they go there simply as a way station on the way back to Israel, rather than accept it genuinely as a final solution.
Senator Symington. Could I ask one question here?
Secretary Rusk. Yes, sir, Senator.
U.S. HAS LIMITED LEVERAGE ON ISRAEL
Senator Symington. When the Israelis, as you know, were anxious to have declarations that we should go in with Israel unilaterally, Mr. Secretary, that we should support them unilaterally, I did not think we could do it because we were so heavily committed in Vietnam. I did not see where the trained people come from, especially if we are going to accede to more people in Vietnam, and, thereafter, after waiting to find out whether anybody would help them, in effect they have struck by themselves and have been markedly successful. Does it not mean we have relatively little leverage on what they want to do now that they have physically occupied these countries by utilizing their military equipment intelligently?
Secretary Rusk. We have some limited leverage on them. I told the committee earlier that we felt we had a commitment from them that they would not move during this time period in which they did move.
Now, the situation on the Egyptian side built up in such a way that it put great pressure upon the Israeli Government, and I have no doubt that on the day they decided to shoot the works that they felt that they were in danger of an imminent attack, based upon information that they thought they had in front of them.
But I think the real pressures on them, Senator, are going to be the necessity for their finding some way to live with these now hundred million, soon to be 200 million, Arabs, because if they try to remain a little armed camp there forever in a sea of bitter hostility, they have got some major problems for their own long-term survival.
SUBSIDIZING THE REFUGEE CAMPS
Senator Gore. Mr. Secretary, I realize that we do not have power, as Senator Symington has punctuated, to give instructions and directions there.
There is one problem, it seems to me, about which we can have a say, and that is continued subsidization of this refugee camp. I went there ten years ago and found it an impossible situation in which they have continued all the while to feed and clothe, support those people, and there are some 200,000 more than when they went into the camp. So surely we can have something to say about no longer continuing to subsidize this.
Secretary Rusk. Well, that constitutes some pressure on the Arabs. It does not constitute any pressure on Israel.
Senator Gore. Well, Israel has taken over some of them, in the Gaza Strip and also in Jordan. They are now claiming sovereignty. So it seems to me it might be a pressure on both.
Secretary Rusk. Well, I do think that the refugee matter should be raised and looked at wholly anew in connection with a settlement of this present situation.
Senator Gore. The point I am trying to make is this is one subject on which we can have a say, and that is how long we are going to continue to pay a very heavy cost of these refugees if they are not dispersed into the countryside.
Secretary Rusk. Well, I do not want to underestimate influence in this situation, but I just want to point out that it is not necessarily decisive when you are talking with countries about what they consider the life and death issues for them.
TAX EXEMPTIONS FOR DONATIONS TO ISRAEL
Senator Hickenlooper. Do we not give tax forgiveness for moneys contributed to Israel, which is rather unusual? We could stop that.
Secretary Rusk. I believe contributions to the UJA are tax exempt, yes.
The Chairman. That is right.
The only country. Do you think you have the votes in the Senate to revoke that?
Senator Case. Are you in favor yourself?
Senator Hickenlooper. I think we ought to treat all nations alike.
Senator Case. That is correct. But are you in favor of it?
Senator Hickenlooper. As long as we do not give it to other nations, I do not----
The Chairman. The trouble is they think they have control of the Senate and they can do as they please.
Senator Symington. What was that?
The Chairman. I said they know they have control of the Senate politically, and therefore whatever the Secretary tells them, they can laugh at him. They say, ``Yes, but you don't control the Senate.''
Senator Symington. They were very anxious to get every Senator they could to come out and say we ought to act unilaterally, and they got two, three.
The Chairman. They know when the chips are down you can no more reverse this tax exemption than you can fly. You could not pass a bill through the Senate.
Senator Hickenlooper. I do not think you could.
The Chairman. Changing that tax exemption contribution to the UJA. I would bet you ten to one you could not begin to pass a bill You do not believe they could under any circumstances.
Senator Symington. A bill to do what?
The Chairman. To revoke the tax exemption of gifts to the UJA. That is one of their major sources of income. You yourself have pointed out the money they paid for the French arms they got from the U.S.
Senator Symington. Each year the money we give annually for this is less than 1 percent of the cost of Vietnam.
The Chairman. I agree with that.
Senator Hickenlooper. There you go.
U.S. CONTRIBUTIONS PAY THE ISRAELI ARMS
The Chairman. But you know very well, you said yourself, that the arms they buy from France are largely paid for by contributions that come from this country.
Senator Symington. Because we would not sell it to them, so instead of selling them the arms----
Senator Gore. Has the President recommended that this be repealed?
The Chairman. No, he has not. I do not wish to make the point except the Secretary is quite correct when he says his leverage on Israel is very limited because of the political situation.
Senator Hickenlooper. I am sorry I brought it up.
Secretary Rusk. I did not say it.
The Chairman. If you did not say it, you do not disagree with it anyway.
Secretary Rusk. I think it should be pointed out though on this tax exempt matter that there are many other organizations, institutions, that would fall into the same principle, private foundations in their expenditures abroad, churches, the voluntary agencies; there are very large sums of money going to foreign countries that are tax exempt in this country as the origin.
Senator Hickenlooper. I do not think it is analogous.
Senator Gore. It is tax deductible; you said tax exempt.
Secretary Rusk. Except the organizations are exempt. Contributions to them are tax deductible.
Senator Cooper. I suggest--it is possible after this that Israel may ask that this be removed as a sign of showing they are not absolutely dependent on the U.S.
IF ISRAEL KEEPS THE TERRITORY IT CONQUERED
Senator Symington. Mr. Secretary, I have just one other question I wish to ask. They have been hating the Jews ever since there was a country, and they are hating them, and they kept on saying they are going to drive them into the sea. Finally, when nobody else would come in, the Israelis said, ``Well, we had better not let them drive us into the sea,'' so they hit them and knocked their brains out and they got a tremendous amount of additional territory.
Why on the basis of the way things are going, inasmuch as the Arabs still say that they are going to drive them into the sea and that they hate them, why should they not keep what they have taken, which will at least make it easier for them to support the refugees, etcetera, etcetera, and make their position as a nation more viable? Why should they not just keep what they have taken? Who has any right to tell them? They have done it by themselves against this steady hate that has been growing, and certainly we have not in any way done anything effective to block it or stop it. Why have we any right to tell them to give up anything unless they are getting something for what they give up?
Secretary Rusk. The point there, Senator, is that they can play that game on a geopolitics basis and prepare for themselves fantastic problems for the future.
Senator Symington. Have they not got them anyway? That is my only point. They have them.
Secretary Rusk. The alternative may be, and I would think that it would be, in Israel's vital national interest to try the other alternative. The alternative may be a reconciliation on the basis of Arab acceptance that Israel is there to stay and a condition of hostility need not exist between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
When you look ahead to 200 million Arabs, with the vast resources that are coming rapidly into that area, the oil and all the rest of it, the possibility that Eastern Europe may then wholly align themselves with all these people, and pour in stuff in a position there, over time, five years, ten years, 15 years, Israel will have to do it all over again, and under conditions that may be much more difficult next time because next time the Arabs will probably strike first.
The Chairman. I think you are quite right.
Senator Hickenlooper. I agree with that thoroughly.
The Chairman. The only hope for Israel for the long term.
Secretary Rusk. As a matter of fact, we have a very difficult problem facing us right now, Senator.
[Discussion off the record.]
INDEMNIFICATION BY ISRAEL
Senator Mundt. I would like to ask a question deriving out of phone calls as I was coming over this morning.
A friend of mine who believes that he had a son on this ship that was shot at, torpedoed or whatever happened, to the best of the information that we can get, he may be wrong, but he thinks he has, but he is pretty bitter. He said to me, and I say to you, What happened? What is the position of the United States when somebody shoots one of these ships down on the high seas? Do we just say, ``Well, you are sorry, it's all right with us,'' or is there some indemnification?
Secretary Rusk. No problems of damage and indemnification have been raised. We do not have a report of the condition of the ship itself or the damage, but we have laid the basis for a very strong protest for going back to them on that kind of thing. We have not had anything by way of explanation from Israel, communications, that could explain that within 24 hours. They, too, I am sure, are investigating, but the only thing we have had from them is a flash report that it occurred. We are very glad they told us right away because if they just laid low on this situation and we did not know who did it, there would have been a strong inclination here to believe the Egyptians did it, you see. But we will be going back to that question when we get more facts.
Senator Mundt. We just do not settle it at this point.
Secretary Rusk. No, it is not settled at this point.
U.S. INFLUENCE ON ISRAEL
Senator Mundt. I was a little bit disturbed when I heard all this discussion around the table this morning that we do not control Israel, and Israel controls the U.S. Government and the Senate. I kind of hate to accept this philosophy. I do not believe it. I think we have a lot of influence over Israel if we decided to exercise it in the present circumstances.
Put yourself in the Israeli's position. They found out that the Russians are not their friends; that is sure. They found out France would not even sign their little maritime declaration as I understand it. Where would they be next week if the U.S. took the same kind of attitude, and this trouble is not going to be resolved, the bitterness eliminated, no matter what kind of settlement.
So I think we are in a strong position to reason with them and to talk with them if in fact they are not running the United States, and I do not think they are. I would deny we have no influence with them. I think we can lead from strength in discussing the various settlements proposed. I am very fearful if we are going to support a guarantee of international borders of a whole new country of Israel spread out with all the lands picked up in the war, that we have sown the seeds of another conflict, like Alsace Lorraine and what is this little place in between India and Pakistan, Kashmir. So far as I know, they never settled the situation between Turkey and Syria.
Secretary Rusk. This is where I came in 20 years ago. I was Assistant Secretary for U.N. Affairs when the Palestine problem was before the U.N., and I would emphasize the importance, as this matter moves ahead, of developing a very strong bipartisan U.S. position on this problem.
Senator Mundt. I think it is important.
Secretary Rusk. Because it is only on that basis that we can proceed with major influence in this situation.
Senator Hickenlooper. Karl, I merely suggest that you take up the hearings on the Foreign Agents Registration Act if you want to find the 19 ramified, concealed and camouflaged Jewish organizations in this country that have their tentacles all through this whole situation. It is in there; it is in the record.
Senator Mundt. That must have happened before I became a member.
Senator Hickenlooper. I sat through these hearings.
Senator Gore. Mr. Chairman.
NEGOTIATIONS WITH SOVIETS ON ABM DEPLOYMENT
Mr. Secretary, first I want to congratulate you, and through you the President, upon the handling of a very difficult and delicate situation in a commendable manner.
Next, it seems to me that the most encouraging thing that has come out of this tragedy is the equation between perhaps the maturing use of the equation between the United States and the Soviet Union. Perhaps it has some hopeful elements, both with respect to the Middle East and other places.
As a preface to my question, I would like to say that I have been shocked, and I believe the world was shocked, at the quick, dramatic results of the first strike. If that be true with conventional arms, then the subject on which the Disarmament Subcommittee held a hearing, the question of deployment of ABM, is certainly a very pertinent question now.
As you know, our committee held an extensive hearing. There were no leaks from the committee. In fact the subcommittee did not even attempt to reach any conclusion yet.
I wish now by question to reopen with you the question of negotiation with the Soviets on ABM deployment. It becomes a pressing matter in view of this demonstration of blitzkrieg warfare. Can you give us a report on the status of that?
Secretary Rusk. Yes. I think there is a very big difference between a first strike which has a reasonable chance of paralyzing the other side's armed forces and a first strike which cannot do so, and this is particularly applicable to the missile field. To the extent that the Israelis got the first strike against the Arab forces, they did succeed in establishing air superiority apparently in a matter of four hours because they caught most of the Arab air forces on the ground.
Now, with missiles we do not see any way in which a first strike by either side can deny to the other side a devastating second strike.
I think the ABM problem therefore is not necessarily affected by this particular situation in the Near East, although it raises the issue in general.
SOVIETS STILL DETERMINING THEIR POSITION
I might tell you, Senator, that we have been waiting for the Soviets to respond to our latest suggestion for serious talks on these matters. We have the impression that the Soviet Union is still in the process of determining its own position. Now this may be because it is a highly complicated matter and they may not have done the kind of depth studies that we have been doing over a period of a year. It may be that there are serious differences of view within their leadership. I have no doubt their military, for example, want to go for ABMs, and in that sense they are not much different from other military.
Now, we hope that they will come back and get into serious talks with us on this. They have not said no, but they have not yet announced a time. We have said, ``We have our fellows who are ready to sit down with you at any time either in Moscow or Washington to go into this further,'' and they said, ``Well, we are ready to talk about it, but we will let you know.''
Our own impression is they are still trying to decide what it is they would say in these discussions, but we are trying to follow through on that.
Senator Carlson. Mr. Chairman, if you will permit, in view of Karl Mundt's statement----
Secretary Rusk. Yes?
The Chairman. Are you finished with that?
Senator Carlson. I did want to get back to this ship again because of Karl Mundt's statement.
The Chairman. Had you finished with this?
Senator Gore. If you will wait just a moment until I finish.
Senator Carlson. Yes.
DEVASTATING EFFECT OF A FIRST STRIKE
Senator Gore. Mr. Secretary, is there any way at your command or the President's to reach some conclusion or ask the Soviets if they either will talk or not talk before this session comes to an end.
I have said nothing publicly on this subject except that I did not think we ought to be strung along on this, and I am greatly impressed with this devastating effect of a first strike. I am not ready to accept that it will not be equally devastating, even more so, with missiles. I have the feeling that this Congress ought to know before it adjourns whether or not there are going to be serious negotiations on this subject. If not, I venture the guess that the Congress will want to make an appropriation to initiate deployment.
I only urge you to convey to the President, at least, my view, which I believe is concurred in unanimously by members of the subcommittee--although I am not sure unanimously, but mostly to--that we should either come to serious negotiation on this or proceed with our own deployment.
Secretary Rusk. Yes, I will be glad to see that those views are given to the President and to Secretary McNamara.
Senator Gore. Now, in response to the question, do you see any way to elicit a more definite answer from the Soviets? Will they be impressed with the blitzkrieg character of this war over there?
Secretary Rusk. I think, sir, that the world-wide strategic issue between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. is so very large in size and so much more devastating in the stakes that I just doubt that the Soviets will draw any conclusions from this Near East situation on that particular point. I just doubt they will.
The Chairman. Senator Carlson.
LOCATION OF THE LIBERTY
Senator Carlson. Mr. Secretary, just in view of what Senator Mundt has raised again--and I raised it at the beginning of this session because most every member of the Senate and many of Congress are going to have families involved as a result of the deaths and the casualties in this unfortunate situation about this ship. We are going to have to answer some questions.
I believe you stated it was 15 miles off the coast of Israel. Is that correct?
Secretary Rusk. And 90 miles north of Port Said.
Senator Carlson. Was it there on the orders of the Defense Department?
Secretary Rusk. Yes.
Senator Carlson. Did the State Department know about it, and were they familiar with its location?
Secretary Rusk. I am not clear, but I would not draw any distinction on that. This was a communication ship, and during the period in which our embassies and consulates were being closed down and we were having to resort to all sorts of improvised communications, it was there to help in the relay process of messages that our people wanted to go back and forth.
Senator Carlson. Had it been there for a great length of time?
Secretary Rusk. No, it had moved in just very shortly before that.
Senator Carlson. Were we intercepting or receiving messages for Israel on this ship?
Secretary Rusk. I do not think so.
Senator Carlson. These are questions that have come to me from families----
TYPE AND CHARACTER OF THE SHIP
Senator Symington. Mr. Secretary, I would think pretty soon somebody had better talk about what type and character of ship this was. I think this is a rather important situation as far as----
Secretary Rusk. It has the capacity to listen, but we were not involved in transmitting messages from one side to the other, if that is what you have in mind.
Senator Carlson. Well, the people out in the country are asking questions, and we are going to have to answer whether--this can all be off the record as far as I am concerned now--but we are going to have to have answers to those questions from the parents of those boys.
Secretary Rusk. Senator, I think you should understand on the question of what it was doing there, it was there under proper orders, on behalf of the United States Government, in the high seas.
Senator Mundt. International waters.
Secretary Rusk. And therefore, from our point of view, was not subject to attack by anybody.
Senator Hickenlooper. Has the casualty list been published?
Secretary Rusk. The last I saw was ten dead.
Senator Hickenlooper. No, I say has the list of names been published?
Secretary Rusk. No; I am not sure.
The Chairman. Senator Cooper.
Senator Cooper. Yes, I would like to--I have been wanting to ask a question. I have been waiting my turn.
The Chairman. All right, he is ready.
EASTERN EUROPEAN ARMS TO EGYPT
Senator Cooper. First, I would like to thank the Secretary for all the information he has given us, and I think it is very valuable.
Also I appreciate very much what you said, we are not out of the woods yet even as far as hostilities may be concerned. We talk about the possibility of replenishing Egypt by Eastern European countries. I read in the paper either last night or this morning, it said there was a rumor, but nevertheless there was a story that prior to yesterday----
The Chairman. Will the Senator speak up a little. I cannot hear.
Senator Cooper. I will do the best I can. I have difficulty with my throat.
The Chairman. Do the best you can. The Senators down at the end cannot hear.
Senator Cooper. What I was saying, there were stories in the papers yesterday and this morning that Egypt was being replenished by arms from Eastern Europe. Does the Department have any information on that subject at all?
Secretary Rusk. We have heard reports and rumors. We do not have anything very hard about significant replenishment actually arriving in Egypt.
Senator Cooper. There were also stories that Russia had flown in some supplies.
Secretary Rusk. Well, I was thinking about replenishment from Russia. I do not know of any arms. Well, Algeria may be sending some planes to Egypt and some of the others may be. Iraq may be sending some planes to Syria. But we have heard the reports. We do not have very hard information at the moment as to what has arrived on the scene.
Senator Cooper. Is there any indication that Egypt was able to pull back and save a good deal, a good many, of its tanks?
Secretary Rusk. Yes. They will have undoubtedly several hundred tanks left. But they lost several hundred in the Sinai.
MANEUVER OF RUSSIAN VESSELS
Senator Cooper. One other question: On this possibility of some incident which might cause great trouble, particularly between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, is it a fact that--you said it has been--very difficult for Egypt to hit this vessel. What do you make out of this maneuver of the Russian naval vessels against which naval commanders there protested, according to the papers.
Secretary Rusk. The Soviet forces there at the present time in the eastern Mediterranean are about what they were in June of last year. They usually send out a few more ships in June.
Senator Cooper. I do not mean this ship, I mean the report that they have been moving in and out of our naval formation against which a protest was made by a naval commander.
Secretary Rusk. I have seen that. I have not had operation reports on just what they have been doing. This is something we would like to sort out sometime with the Soviet Union because that happens on both sides, quite frankly, and we are not in a very good position to be all that indignant about their having naval vessels in the vicinity of our naval vessels because we do that both ways. I can assure you, when Soviet ships go into the Gulf of Tonkin, they think they are being harassed pretty badly by our vessels nearby and planes buzzing them and taking pictures and things of that sort, so I would hope we would not get too excited over this particular kind of problem. We ought to sort it out some day with them, but it is a bilateral kind of problem.
Senator Cooper. You think our ships would be moving as close to this area as they seem to be, like 14 miles off this vessel, and the fleet is not too far away.
Secretary Rusk. Well, our fleet has been up south of Cyprus, at least portions of it, and other portions further to the west. Actually our carriers have been some distance away. But it is not abnormal at all for us to have this type of vessel in that kind of a situation.
Senator Cooper. Well, that is all I have.
I would like to say this for the record. I thank you, Mr. Secretary, and your associates, and I thank the President, in the restraint and patience with which you have worked in this situation, for which you deserve tremendous credit.
Secretary Rusk. Thank you, Senator.
RESCUING AMERICANS IN ARAB COUNTRIES
Senator Hickenlooper. May I ask the Secretary--our nationals were practically ordered out of several of these Arab countries.
Secretary Rusk. Yes.
Senator Hickenlooper. Egypt, and is it not perfectly natural that our ships would be in there, airplanes or something, to see if we could aid or to prevent undue damage to our nationals as they are being moved out?
Secretary Rusk. Senator, we have had an extremely dangerous and difficult problem with regard to our nationals out there in this situation, some 25,000 in the area, and we could not be at all sure that normal rights of legation would apply against all these problems.
Our contingency plans for rescuing Americans who might be caught, even against the wishes of the local governments, had to be very extensive and it was very important for us to have the most immediately available information. Some of our communications equipment could not reach very far from the fellow who had a little pack on his back. So it was perfectly normal for us to have a ship of this sort in there.
Now, we still are not out of the woods yet on this question of taking care of American nationals in the area.
Senator Case. Could you give us a little rundown on that? Secretary Rusk. Yes. The most difficult problem has been in Amman because of the lack of easy communications to safe haven, but we think the situation is now under reasonable control with the other governments.
In the case of those who have broken relations with us, they are taking governmental steps to protect American personnel. We made it very clear to them on this matter we would apply the principles of reciprocity. We would expect to treat their people there with the same consideration we expected from them, and I think that that situation is clarifying.
But we still are not over the dangers of possible mob action.
Wheelus Airbase could be a little sticky. We have about 8,000 Americans that have been collected to the Wheelus base.
The Chairman. Civilians?
Secretary Rusk. And military and dependents.
Now, we think we can take care of that because we have a fair amount of local force of our own if the Libyan Government does not have enough force to do it itself. The Libyan Government has been trying, but it has limited capabilities against mobs. But in general, I am somewhat encouraged about the threat to American citizens in the area this morning.
TRANSCRIPT OF NASSER CONVERSATION
Senator Mundt. Mr. Secretary, have you been able to prove or disprove that curious story in the Star last night, allegedly a transcript between Nasser and the king, about “Come on, get behind us and prove the British and Americans”--
Secretary Rusk. We are analyzing that recording and comparing it with earlier recordings of these two gentlemen to see how authentic it was. I have no reason at the moment to doubt the authenticity of it.
The Chairman. Senator Pell, do you have any questions?
Senator Pell. One.
The Chairman. Senator Pell.
SLOWDOWN IN FIGHTING IN VIETNAM
Senator Pell. Mr. Secretary, I would like also to say how much I admire the restraint which you and the administration have shown.
Secretary Rusk. Thanks.
Senator Pell. And also again advert to the point I mentioned before, and that is the slowdown in the fighting in Vietnam. You may not wish to enlarge on this, but it would seem to me there might be a relationship between the slowdown there and the improved relations, improvement of communications with the Soviet Union.
Is there any way, now that the Soviet Union has suffered a rebuff in the Near East, that we might be able to relate that to some part of de-escalation on our part in Vietnam and reach some kind of a solution there, too?
I am sure you were thinking about the whole picture, and I was wondering if you could tell us about your thoughts in that regard.
Secretary Rusk. We are in touch frequently with the Soviet Union on Vietnam. Their problem and ours is still with Hanoi. We keep a very close check on what happens on the ground in Vietnam to see whether any slowdown has a political significance.
Actually, in terms of Viet Cong and North Vietnamese initiative, there has not been a significant slowdown in the last week or ten days as sort of reflected in the press.
There has been some information indicating that they are--they continue to build up for that offensive, the June offensive, that we are expecting in the DMZ.
I think there is a slowdown. At the moment it is for some regrouping on the part of our own side and the absence of large-scale fighting, but not a slowdown in the rate of Viet Cong or North Vietnamese incidents or attacks in the countryside.
So we cannot draw political conclusions from it. But we are, and continue to be, in touch with the Russians, and will follow up on Vietnam with them. But their problem is that it is still with Hanoi.
Senator Pell. Thank you.
The Chairman. Senator McCarthy, do you have a contribution?
Senator McCarthy. Not right now.
RUSSIAN ENCOURAGEMENT OF THE ARABS
The Chairman. Mr. Secretary, I would like to go on and explore a little further this same question. There was an interesting article this morning in the Washington Post. I do not know whether you had time to read it or not. I would like to read just a couple of paragraphs. It says:
In the early stages of the Middle Eastern crisis, the suspicion was freely voiced that Russia had encouraged the Arabs in order to get back at the United States for Cuba, Vietnam and other failures of Soviet policy.
Senator Mundt. We cannot hear you.
Senator Cooper. I want to lodge a protest.
The Chairman. ``But it is now clear that the Kremlin had no such intention. It has worked with the Western powers''--and I presume that means us--``behind the scenes to mitigate the conflict, at the cost of appearing to forsake its Arab allies, instead of issuing the kind of vociferous and saber-rattling promises of support which it gave so readily in the past.''
As a sign of political maturity, this is much more convincing than the ``Tashkent spirit'' following the India-Pakistan war in the fall of 1965.
Then I skip over to another paragraph.
Support for the Arabs has been expressed in the most generalized and vague assurances. The Soviet Union has been aware of the dangers of the situation, and has not wished to encourage Arab recklessness by promises of support.
It is a rather long article. But that again leads me to ask you and again hopefully to suggest that the Department give very serious consideration to trying to use this occasion, which I am sure is a great shock to the prestige, the ego, of the Soviet Union, to enlist their assistance through the Security Council, where they have cooperated apparently in recent days, to open up Vietnam. If we are to get anything of any value out of this, it seems to me it could be to get a negotiation on Vietnam.
I cannot help but think there is a possibility of utilizing this. I think the Soviets have been extremely restrained in their promises.
You remember how Krushchev threatened everybody at the time of the '56--well, in nearly every occasion he was always threatening that he would not stand idly by. This calls attention to it, how Khrushchev said, ``We won't stand idly by,'' and so on, which was absent in this particular instance.
But I would feel there is some parallel interest, and these present people, Kosygin in particular, being an engineer and a technician, I do not believe is nearly as interested in big political gestures as his predecessor was.
I would like very much to urge that this be explored, utilizing their present presence and interest in the Security Council, to see if the Security Council might not make recommendations.
I am not suggesting they can handle Vietnam because the other side has insisted, and I suppose still will, it has no jurisdiction, but to use it to perhaps reopen and reconvene the Geneva Conference, which the other side and ourselves have in times past said would be a proper forum for a negotiation.
You say the trouble is Hanoi. It has been the trouble has been Hanoi. But if that could be coupled with a recommendation to stop the bombing, that would ease our own political situation and might open it up.
BRINGING VIETNAM WAR TO A CLOSE
I just offer that as a suggestion, because I am very anxious and very interested in bringing the Vietnam thing to a close, because of the effect it is having on our domestic economy, our political situation. I think this is going to be most serious if this war continues through to the next election, and that is about the only benefit, affirmative benefit, I can see we can get out of this.
We have all the troubles here, and we will do what we can, and I join the others about what we have done so far in the Middle East.
Of course our problem has been made rather easy by the way the military thing went, up to this point. We still have some terrible problems. But do you not think there is a possibility that this might shake loose the frozen attitude that has grown up?
SOVIET ROLE EXAGGERATED
Secretary Rusk. Senator, first let me make a few comments on my own personal impressions of the role of the Soviet in this Middle East situation because I think that story you read from exaggerated it from both directions. I do not believe that the Soviet Union was strongly encouraging what they called the progressive Arab states--Cairo, Syria, Algeria particularly--to move against the moderate and conservative Arab states, and to work against U.S. influence in the Middle East, and to support the U.S.S.R.'s influence there.
I think they encouraged the Arabs up to the request for the removal of UNEF.
Then I think Nasser jumped out ahead of the Soviet Union considerably when he announced the closing of the Straits of Tiran.
The Chairman. You think that was done without their approval.
Secretary Rusk. That is right.
The Chairman. I see.
Secretary Rusk. And we have very good reason to believe that Nasser did not consult the Soviet Union or indeed anybody else when he closed the strait.
Senator Symington. How about U Thant, did he consult him?
Secretary Rusk. No, he did not on the closing of the straits.
Now, I think what has happened, this sort of parallel action by us and the Soviet Union in the Security Council, from their point of view was an attempt to stabilize the situation as quickly as possible in the face of a prospective stunning defeat of Arab forces by Israel.
ARAB FAILURES IN DIPLOMATIC NEGOTIATIONS
One of the curious things about this situation over the last 20 years has been that the Arabs seemed to have a genius for just being too late to take care of their own interests. I will give the earliest example and the latest example.
At the instruction of President Truman and General Marshall during the mandate of Palestine, I was negotiating with the then Zionists and the Arabs about a military and political standstill so there could be at the termination of the mandate a further period in which a genuinely agreed solution could be found.
The Chairman. What year was that, Mr. Secretary?
Secretary Rusk. That was 1947. I was up in the Savoy Plaza Hotel. I had the Arab delegation down one end of the hall and the Zionist delegation at the other end of the hall, and we got practically everything put together except the question of the number of Jewish immigrants that would be admitted into Palestine during the standstill.
We got the Jewish side to accept 3,000 a month, which was very small compared to the numbers that they thought and hoped would want to come in. It is 36,000 a year.
Then Prince Faisal, now King Faisal, who was the spokesman for the Arab side, refused to accept that 3,000 figure on the grounds that if you accepted 3,000 they would send in 3,000 pregnant women and that would make it 6,000.
Senator Hickenlooper. That is one way to do it.
Secretary Rusk. Now, you see, had they accepted that figure of 3,000, this whole thing might have taken a different shape over a period of time, you see. That is an early example of being too late.
Now, the big example is that they fought on the ground to oppose the basic U.N. resolution establishing Israel whereas now there is nothing they want more than the original resolution.
Senator Hickenlooper. Who?
Secretary Rusk. The Arabs.
The Chairman. The Arabs.
Secretary Rusk. You see, they want that original resolution which provides much less Israel territory than Israel has since then obtained.
Now, here in this, since the fighting broke out----
Senator Hickenlooper. I thought they were unalterably opposed to the recognition of sovereignty of Israel.
Secretary Rusk. But they are now demanding the application of the original U.N. resolution too late. Had they taken it at the time, they would have had it.
Now, when the fighting broke out, had they taken immediately the first Security Council resolution on a cease-fire, they would have been far better off than they are today. I think the Soviet Union understood that and tried to press them to take the ceasefire two days ago. Now, with 48 hours of fighting, they have lost the Sinai and the west bank of the Jordan, so I think that the Soviets were taking a practical view.
Now, from here on out, I think you can expect the Soviets to do everything they can to stimulate the most radical among the Arabs, through propaganda and otherwise, perhaps to try to find some basis on which they can recoup the situation.
So I am not sure we will not find that the Soviets and we are going to have real difficulties in the Security Council about a final settlement here. I think for very practical reasons----
[Discussion off the record.]
U.S. BALANCING ACT IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Senator Symington. Mr. Chairman, may I ask a question?
The Chairman. Yes.
Senator Symington. In 1953 when I first came to the Senate, Mr. Herzog was military attache, brother-in-law of Abba Eban, and he said to me, ``If you give arms to Yugoslavia, who you know won't fight for you, why don't you sell them to us, who you know would fight for you?''
Nobody answered that question, and I have been following closely for 15 years this whole situation even before I came on this committee.
I would like to ask this question: You have this balancing of arms in this government. There are not many Americans who know, realize, that we not only had F-I04s in Jordan but we had American pilots in Jordan when this business began to flare up. We have done a balancing act. I say this with great respect, but I would not say it if I did not think it was fair. But we have been very unfair to the Israelis the way we handled economic aid to Egypt, and at the same time, while they have gotten a lot of money from this country, it has gone to buy this air force from France.
Under all these circumstances, it seems to me that foreign policy, and Senator McCarthy and I have been very interested in this in hearings and we have got the chairman interested, and I think we ought to wrap the hearings up. It seems to me we have been setting foreign policy, at least as far as the Middle East is concerned, in the Department of Defense in a fairly low echelon.
INCREASE THE SALE OF ARMS
We have increased the sale of arms in the last five years from $300 million a year to $1.7 billion a year. We do this with a fellow who, to be honest, a few months ago I never knew existed. I never heard of him. He seems to be the biggest shot around these parts, and so forth and so on, and I think it is better if we are going to start talking about working out with the Soviets some arrangements. I think we just, Mr. Secretary, and I say this with great respect, to me it is just as clear as light the Defense Department at low levels has been setting foreign policy in this field.
I know and you know General Weitzman, who could not be more interesting and obviously a very able man, runs their air force. He has been promoted to deputy. He was over here pleading for the type and character of arms that we refused to give him and did give some of his enemies. Under these circumstances again, I say, I can see the hate angle and I can see the oil angle, and the future Soviet angle, but it looks to me like they have a country that they pretty well got this part of Jordan stuck in there. They have got the Sinai Peninsula and I do not see why we should be so anxious to see them give up a lot because they gave up an awful lot when we agreed and Nasser agreed to let them use the canal and the Gulf.
So we have been knee deep in this arms thing, and I think our record on the way we have handled it would be open to a lot of world criticism if it is to be opened.
But for what it is worth, I would appreciate your giving me your comments on these observations.
Secretary Rusk. Senator, first I think it is only in NATO that Mr. Kuss has practically a blank check to sell arms to help with the offset problems in NATO, within the general structure of NATO limits.
As far as other parts of the world are concerned, those come up to Cabinet level, and I will have to take the lumps.
ARMS SALES THROUGH IRAN
Senator Symington. Is Iran part of NATO?
Secretary Rusk. No, but those matters come up to Cabinet level.
Senator Symington. Did you know about the sale of F-86s to Pakistan through Iran and the German private corporation?
Secretary Rusk. Yes, and we have tried to pull a string on that.
Senator Symington. I do not say----
Secretary Rusk. No, but we have to follow this pretty closely.
In the case of the Near East, we have tried for years not to become a principal arms supplier in the Near East. But here with these massive Soviet buildups in Syria and Egypt, we knew that Nasser was out to get King Hussein. We knew Hussein had to have some sort of protection against Nasser. Now, that ramifies into a problem with Israel.
U.S. ARMS TO ISRAEL
Senator Symington. If Nasser was out to get Israel, we never would give any sophisticated war material to Israel. That is what I have never been able to understand.
Secretary Rusk. I think some of the stuff we have given to Israel has been very sophisticated. Our view was that Israel's defense establishment was in pretty good shape against the Arabs. They came in for some requests from time to time, they went far beyond some things we generally supplied them, but our general estimate was they were pretty reasonably balanced and this was far in excess of their requirements, and the last few days have not proved us wrong.
Senator Symington. They have a secretary of defense over there who happens to be a military man and listens to his chiefs of staff, so they did pretty well when they got rolling. They did more in four days than we have done with our air power and sea power in Vietnam. That is another matter. I did not want to get away from their capacity to handle a war brilliantly. All I am getting back to is the first premise, considering the way we have acted with them, I do not see where we have the leverage to tell the to go back from what they have conquered in order to protect themselves.
They are going to get the hate from the Arabs whether they do or do not. That is my only point.
USE OF U.S. ARMS AGAINST ISRAEL
Senator McCarthy. Will the Senator yield?
Is it not true that more of our arms, if they had been put into use, would have been used against Israel than would have been used against the Arabs, Saudi Arabia and Jordan?
Secretary Rusk. Oh, I would think not.
Senator McCarthy. We have not given much to Israel. We may have helped them buy French arms.
Secretary Rusk. They had tanks from us, and I do not want, you know, to brag about how much we gave to everybody, but the Saudi Arabian arms have not been involved in this situation.
Senator McCarthy. They did not get organized.
Secretary Rusk. Beg pardon?
Senator McCarthy. They were not ready.
Secretary Rusk. And for other reasons.
Senator McCarthy. If they had gotten those Hawk missiles in.
Secretary Rusk. And for other reasons I think Saudi Arabia was taking their time because of their relations with Nasser.
Senator McCarthy. I wanted to ask what does this mean in the general re-evaluation of the arms sale with Saudi Arabia?
FINDING A SOLUTION IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Secretary Rusk. Before you came in, I was trying to indicate some of the elements we feel ought to go into a final solution here. One would be some agreement among the principal arms supplying countries including the Soviet Union about the level of arms in the area, and, if we could achieve something of this sort, it would be very important.
Senator McCarthy. Does this open a way to doing something real about the Arab refugees or does not a disturbance of this magnitude make a difference?
Secretary Rusk. We would hope so. I indicated earlier that if the Arab refugees could be given a chance to go into the privacy of a confessional booth and make a personal decision about where he wants to live ten years from now, that the practical effect of that secret consultation with the refugees would probably be something that Israel could accept because perhaps only one in ten would elect to live in Israel.
FUTURE OF THE SUEZ CANAL
Senator McCarthy. What about the canal? Are you going to let the Egyptians take it over again and give them a chance to shut it off any time they want to as they have done twice in ten years. Or is this the time to move in a way that President Truman indicated back in '45 about the Panama Canal, the Suez and all these things?
Secretary Rusk. I have no doubt that the opening of the Suez will be a major issue in the settlement of this affair.
Senator McCarthy. Continued opening, the question of how it would be kept open.
Secretary Rusk. It may be on this, you see, that some--instead of relying upon general rules of international law--it may be possible to work out a special regime of international law for these two waterways, roughly similar to the Montreux Convention affecting the Bosporous. Yes, we are working on that pretty hard.
The Chairman. Senator Clark has not had a chance. I wonder if he could be recognized.
Senator Clark. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
THE NEED FOR DISARMAMENT
Mr. Secretary, I would like particularly to have Senator Gore and Senator Symington listen to this. Mr. Secretary, it seems to me that our government has an opportunity to do something which comes once in a lifetime, to do something effective about the disarmament, and I use the word ``disarmament'' instead of arms control advisedly, as a result of what has happened in the Middle East.
The Russians, as I understand it, have poured over the years something in the neighborhood of $2 billion in armaments into the Middle East about which around $1 billion, Mr. Bader tells me, went to Egypt.
Secretary Rusk. That is correct.
Senator Clark. An awful lot of that has gone down the drain.
I would not think that a hard-boiled people like the Russians would be deeply interested in making the same mistake again.
Secretary Rusk. Add $1 billion to Indonesia.
Senator Clark. Yes, sure.
Now, the Israelis have always proudly boasted that they were very much in favor of disarmament in the Middle East, but they could not do anything about it because the Arabs would not go along.
Well, now, maybe with the Arabs significantly, although not certainly totally disarmed, with Russia disillusioned, this is a time when our government would move pretty rapidly in that direction. I am sure that Senator Gore, the chairman of the Subcommittee on Disarmament, and Senator Symington, as chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East, might look with favor on this suggestion.
SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON THE MIDDLE EAST
Now, yesterday I think it was announced that you were the chairman of a special committee on the Middle East, and McBundy has been brought back out of the mothballs to be the executive director. I, frankly, am a little bit disappointed. In fact, I go further and say I am quite disappointed that there is nobody from the agency which has the statutory responsibility for dealing with arms control and disarmament, mainly the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, under that subcommittee. I talked to my good friend and yours, Joe Sisco, at the White House yesterday at a luncheon, and he said, ``You don't need anybody from that outfit on that committee. I am on it.''
He said there is nobody from AID on it either. Well, I respectfully suggest to you that it may be that that point of view does deserve some upgrading. They should not be treated exactly like lackeys who are sent over to Geneva from time to time and gotten rid of, but that Bill Foster ought to be on that committee. I was going to make another suggestion, which is one that I wrote for this committee not too long ago, that we ought to give this whole disarmament effort, or if you are going to downgrade it to arms control, a much higher priority in the Middle East than you have done. I would recommend to you, sir, that you ask the President to turn the Vice President loose on this. He used to be chairman of the Disarmament Subcommittee down here. This has been one of his babies for many a long year. I do not need to tell you the energy that he has got, the zeal with which he can approach this task, and I would suggest unhampered by some of your restrictions which might impede some of the rest of them.
I guess that is a question, isn't it?
Secretary Rusk. I will report back your views, Senator. I am not sure about the Vice President in this particular role.
Senator Clark. He might get us disarmament.
Secretary Rusk. The functions of a Vice President are beyond my level.
It is true that this committee does not have on it the Director of ACDA, the Director of AID, the Secretary of Interior and a number of others who have a major stake in what happens here, and we expect to draft them when questions come up.
But ACDA has been working for some time on the possibility of conventional arms limitation in the Near East.
In the opening statement of the Geneva Conference I myself will be a recognition by the NATO countries that they have an important interest in the Near East, and will help out a little bit more.
I am going to have to go at least for a day or two to the NATO Ministers Meeting in the middle of next week, and for the first time in a long time the NATO countries are beginning to get interested in something outside of NATO.
LET THE MIDDLE EAST SETTLE ITS OWN PROBLEMS
The Chairman. Yesterday, some people called on me, and they thought that now--they did not put it that way--now that Israel has prevailed, that we ought to let them alone to settle this among themselves.
What should I say to them when they say that to me?
Secretary Rusk. I would think the best way to deal with that one at the present time would be to say that this is in the Security Council and it ought to stay there for a while.
The Chairman. The U.N. can do it. I said if they can do it, I am all for it.
Secretary Rusk. By the way, may I make just one brief remark. We have had some indication in the last three days, Senator Gore, that we are making some more progress on the nonproliferation treaty.
Senator Gore. Wonderful.
Secretary Rusk. So we may be able to table a joint draft in Geneva shortly.
Senator Gore. Good.
Secretary Rusk. But that is just--I cannot guarantee that yet, but we have been encouraged by what has happened in the last three days.
The Chairman. Thank you very much.
[Whereupon, at 12:05 o'clock p.m., the committee was adjourned.]
Sources: Federation of American Scientists